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Family Law

Russell Kennedy Aitken Lawyers supports clients with expert advice regarding property separation, parenting orders, binding financial agreements, prenuptial and separation agreements, spousal and child maintenance and de facto relationship law.

We understand that divorce and separation can be an emotional time particularly if there are children involved. As your divorce lawyers, we’re here to ensure the important practical and legal issues are taken care of and support you through this challenging period. We’re proud of our reputation for taking the time to understand each client’s situation and offering a highly personalised service.

We seek to resolve disputes without the need for legal proceedings and deliver timely and cost-effective resolutions. We use round table conferences and mediations to achieve this aim, ensuring that you’re informed and comfortable with our approach at all stages of the process. We’re highly skilled negotiators and will work diligently to achieve your desired outcome.

If an agreement cannot be reached via mediation, our family law team can provide you with strong representation in the Family Law Court, Federal Circuit Court and Local Courts.

Given our broad range of expertise, our clients have the benefit of in house advice on not only family law issues but also matters closely linked to family law issues including; taxation matters, structure of corporate entities and removal of directors, insurance questions and criminal charges.

Whether you have reached the end of a very long marriage, your de facto relationship has just ended after a short time, your same-sex relationship (or marriage) has concluded, you are trying to work out parenting arrangements or you have questions about child support, spousal maintenance or divorce the team at Russell Kennedy Aitken Lawyers are here to help.

Our experienced family law team can assist you in the following areas:

Separation: Where to start and what to remember

Are you going through a separation, or considering separating from your partner? If so, you will be dealing with a range of emotional and practical challenges.

Whilst many people will likely offer advice and assistance, it is important to seek help from someone with your best interests at the forefront, who also understands the intricacies of legislation and best practices to protect yourself. 

Taking the next step in separation is a daunting and sometimes scary experience. Our team has made the process easier for you by providing a brief checklist of things to take into consideration or keep in mind upon separating from your partner.

View the Family Law Video Alert: Separation – Where to start?

 

Checklist - Getting started:

  • Work through parenting arrangements early. This will ensure there is as little disruption as possible to the children.
  • Find the right lawyer for you. A lawyer who understands your expectations and can assist you in reaching your goals. This should be a trained family lawyer, not a generalist lawyer.
  • Get advice early. It pays to be proactive rather than reactive, not waiting until you require help. Call your family lawyer and understand what you can do now.
  • Consider building your support network by finding a good counsellor or psychologist to navigate the emotional side of a separation.
  • Keep your accountant up to date. This is crucial to ensure financial matters do not further contribute to your stress.
  • Protect your assets. Consider who can access joint accounts, term deposits or other significant liquid assets, what the maximum limits are on credit facilities and whether your estranged spouse can withdraw monies from any home loans.
  • Collate your financial information. Your lawyer will likely require financial information (i.e., bank statements, tax returns, superannuation information and documents relating to any trust or company). Collate them early to save yourself legal fees later. 
  • Consider your safety. If this is a concern for you contact the Police and ask to speak with the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer.

The most important thing to remember is that there are people who can and will help you through this difficult time. If you would like to speak with a lawyer about your personal circumstances, please contact our family law team.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance refers to the payment or ongoing financial support from one party to their former wife or husband. The Family Court or Federal Circuit Court of Australia deal with two types of spousal maintenance applications, they are:

  1. Spouse maintenance - the financial support paid by a party to their former wife or husband in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves and pay for their day to day living expenses.
  2. De-facto partner maintenance - the financial support paid to a de-facto partner that has broken down to their former de-facto partner in circumstances where they are unable to adequately support themselves.

Both types of applications can be made in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

Under the Family Law Act 1975, both people in the relationship have a responsibility to support and maintain each other. This obligation continues even after they have separated or divorced in certain circumstances. Essentially the extent of the support depends on:

  • one spouse being unable to adequately meet their own needs; and
  • the other spouse having capacity to pay.

In summary, the judicial officer will try and decide on what is most equitable and fair, based on a set of predefined criteria.

There are time limits associated with any application for spousal maintenance so if you think you are entitled to make a claim, or you are currently facing an application please call our family law team to discuss.

 

Divorce

Divorce is the legal ending of a marriage between two people. The divorce process is the same for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. Under the Australian Law, you can only apply for a divorce once you have been separated for a period of at least 12 months. However, there are certain conditions depending on the length and type of marriage. Our dedicated team of family lawyers can provide high quality advice and representation to you during this difficult and stressful time.

There is often a misconception that you and your spouse need to agree on a divorce. This is not true. Either party can apply for a divorce separately from the other.

In Australia, we have a no fault divorce system. This means the Court is not interested and will not take into consideration the reasons why you and your spouse have separated.

The granting of a divorce does not resolve issues related to property settlement or parenting orders.

Applying for a divorce is one step of the separation process that is often overlooked. The process can take many months to finalise. We therefore recommended that you get started on the process early, and even simultaneously with your property division. There are various advantages of obtaining a formal divorce including the ability to legally remarry.

There is often a requirement that you attend Court to have your divorce application heard by the Federal Circuit court. Given this is the case we recommend obtaining legal advice prior to filing such an application.

Binding Financial Agreements (BFA)

A BFA is a legally binding agreement between two people which is compliant with the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). It’s a complex legal document which requires both parties to obtain legal advice. Such agreements can exist between soon to be married, already married, separated or divorced couples that can be made before, during or after their relationship. A BFA can also be entered into by parties who do not intend to marry at any stage of their relationship. BFAs are particularly useful for second marriages or relationships that are entered into where there is inequity in the parties’ financial positions. We can assist you to draft and negotiate a BFA and enforce it should a dispute arise.

The purpose of a BFA is for parties to document their agreement on how they will divide their assets and liabilities in the event they were to separate in the future. A BFA can also provide for who is to pay maintenance to the other, or can prevent either party from seeking maintenance payments.

BFAs can be structured in a number of ways. The BFA can include details of how parties are to pay for rates and expenses over a jointly owned property prior to the end of a relationship, they can deal with the division of inheritances (or protect those inheritances), they can also explain how assets are to be acquired. A BFA is a document that can provide a flexible solution to cater for your specific needs.

We recommend engaging us to assist you early to allow sufficient time to negotiate the terms prior to a marriage or significant event. 

Benefits of a BFA

Benefits include:

  • The agreement provides certainty to both parties of a relationship and their respective families in knowing what each party will get when and if the relationship ends.
  • It saves time and the need for either party to make an application to the Court at the end of a relationship – the agreement has already been implemented and legally binding at this stage.
  • Both parties might see huge savings in legal fees and emotional wellbeing.
  • In the event of separation occurring the parties can immediately focus their attention on the children and the care arrangements for them at this difficult time because financial matters have been dealt with.
  • Enables both parties to explore structuring their finances going forward from the outset – many clients find it brings parties closer together to make difficult financial decisions earlier than would otherwise occur.

For more information, contact our family law team. 

 

Some additional resources that can assist you can be found here:

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